Although we are only halfway through the online survey for Housing Technology’s forthcoming Digital by Default 2016 report (to be published in March in conjunction with Go ON UK), a quick snapshot and analysis of the responses provides some interesting results.
In terms of the factors preventing tenants getting online, a lack of knowledge and/or training combined with a lack of confidence are the most important factors, while the cost of IT equipment and the cost of internet connectivity are the least important.
Survey respondents reported that worries about the impact on vulnerable tenants and the cost and complexity of integration with back-office systems were the most significant factors hindering their digital inclusion strategies, closely followed by legal restrictions, such has the requirement to send rent change notifications via the post.
The most frequent reasons cited for pursuing a digital inclusion strategy were, in descending order of importance, tenant services, the changes to the benefits system, cost savings, more efficient operations and, lastly, moral/social obligations to tenants.
While the majority of respondents said that their organisation had a defined digital inclusion strategy, over a third of them had none at all.
The majority of housing providers’ tenants are digital excluded (defined for the purposes of the survey as the housing provider having no evidence of any online activity or presence), with the remaining tenants equally split between being fully included (they had transacted with their housing provider via at least one online channel) and partially included (no online transactions with their housing provider but they had an email address).
Accurately reflecting the reasons why tenants weren’t online, most housing providers were spending around half of their DI budgets on IT training for tenants, with the remaining budget divided reasonably equally between giving tenants IT equipment and internet connectivity.
Only a quarter of housing providers have put together any special IT hardware/software packages for tenants, but just over a third of them have arranged special broadband packages and tariffs for tenants. The majority of housing providers do offer free internet access to tenants from their offices and community centres.
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